International Bowl Expo Marks Major Trade Shows Returning to Downtown Louisville

The excitement is noticeable as soon as you walk into the exhibit hall at this year’s International Bowl Expo. Thousands of attendees are milling about talking, smiling and networking. Looking around the room, you would never know that it’s been more than a year since their last event or that it’s the first major trade show at the Kentucky International Convention Center since March 2020. 

One of the main goals of the Bowling Proprietors Association of America (BPAA) is to create networking events like the International Bowl Expo. Much like venues, Bowling Alleys are in the business of bringing people together. Until very recently, social distancing kept them closed or at limited capacity. 

 “The BPAA’s goal is to get things back to normal as quickly as possible. By having this convention, it’s a good sign that we’re getting there,” said Jim Decker, the President of BPAA. Attendance at this year’s show is approximately 80% of past events. While that seems like a significant drop, it’s actually a positive sign. Travel restrictions prevented the large international and military contingent, regulars at past International Bowl Expos, from attending this year.

For Decker, nothing beats in person events. “You get face-to-face contact and the sharing of ideas. We had a lot of meetings virtually. You just don’t get the same participation as when people meet in person.” 

“We are really excited to be back in trade shows and I think what we’ve seen are the customers are also excited to be back. We’ve had great turnout and are excited to see everyone face to face,” said exhibitor Dan Wilbur from Motiv Bowling Balls.  

The Motiv booth buzzed with customers, as members of the bowling industry explored new products and networked with colleagues.

“Trade shows are very important to our business. It’s all about developing customer relationships and there’s no better way than meeting people in person and it’s exactly what these events are for,” said Wilbur.

After a year without trade shows Megan Hawkins from Party Center Software, an event booking and management program, is excited to talk to potential customers to learn what they need in a post-pandemic world.

“We are really excited to see how our customers have pivoted in this time as they come to the expo for the latest and greatest in the industry,” said Hawkins. 

For more information about the BPAA’s International Bowl Expo, visit